A United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has hightailed it back to Rome Fiumicino Airport just minutes after taking off bound for Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The news marks the fourth such incident for the four-year-old aircraft – registered as N27958 – over the course of the past week.
Though Italian authorities have not provided details on the turnback, three separate aborted flights departing from Tokyo were ascribed to leading-edge slat issues over a 48-hour period – all involving N27958.
Freight service UA-2770 from Tokyo Narita to San Francisco International was first cancelled on 2 July, after aborting its initial climb phase to return to Narita 80 minutes after take-off.
The plane remained grounded for three hours before taking off the same day, for yet another aborted attempt at the intercontinental service. According to open-source monitoring service Airportia, the aircraft then remained on the ground for a further 21.5 hours before making a third unsuccessful attempt.
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Primarily used during take-off and landing, leading-edge slats help to generate lift for an aircraft. While the news follows a late 2019 Airworthiness Directive (AD) from the US Federal Aviation Administration linked to the 787’s leading-edge outboard slat system, this notice was strictly related to operation in winter weather.
On its part, United has not provided an update regarding the aircraft and any associated technical difficulty.
Flightradar24 data indicates that the plane in question remains grounded in Rome, though a return to United’s EWR hub is scheduled for 9:30pm CEST on Thursday night.